Monday, July 24, 2006


originally uploaded by Paulius1981.
Why is it that you only notice glaring mistakes in something you’ve done…right at the end when the mistake is un-fixable.

Last night I was in a drawing mood, and as I’m currently on an X-Men kick, I decided to try and draw a picture of Rogue, in the original Saturday Morning cartoon style.

Now, just to give you an idea of what a long involved process this is, let me give you a step by step on how I draw. I know this won’t be particularly interesting to most people, but I have a point to make, and this (if you’ll pardon the pun) illustrates this perfectly.

Step One : The Thumbnail Sketches

This is where I take a fresh piece of paper and draw slightly expanded stick-figures. This is just to come up with a pose, get the perspective right etc. When I’ve settled on something I like, I move onto the next step.

Step Two : The Basic Sketch

Taking a new piece of paper, I draw the basic outlines in full size. This is where you ‘construct’ your drawing, using basic shapes (Elongated circle for the head, cylinders for the arms legs and torso etc) This is the basic foundation that the drawing will be built up on. It makes sure you have the perspective and proportions right. As a hint of any other wannabe artists out there, this was the best tip I ever got. You don’t draw from the top down, but draw very lightly with rough shapes and outlines, then build on top of that, getting closer and closer to your finished product.

Step Three : Final Pencils

This is where, on top of your basic sketch, you actually start to draw in your details, refine shaped, add clothing, hair etc. When you’re done with this, you should have a fairly polished pencil drawing.

Step Four : Scanning and inking

Now, I scan the pencils into the computer, and open it up in Adobe Illustrator. This is a vector drawing program that I use to digitally ‘ink’ my pencils. I particularly like Illustrator because it allows you to ‘create’ your own brushes. It also has the great feature of being able to set the ‘smoothness’ and fidelity of your lines. In other words, if you’re doing a long sweeping line like a lock of hair, if your hand shakes slightly, it’ll smooth out the line for you. This step can take anywhere from an hour to four hours, depending on the complexity of the pencils.

Step Five : Photoshop Coloring - Flats

While this is my favorite step, it’s also the most monotonous, tedious and time consuming.

You basically create a layer for every color on your drawing. With the color layers behind your ink layer, you trace around each shape with the polygonal lasso tool, and fill it with the paint bucket tool. Basically, lots and lots of clicking. At this point, you only fill with the midtone colors you want to use.

Step Six : Photoshop coloring - Shading

Now you have your drawing flat colored, you fire up the airbrush tool. Working on a single color at a time, you set the brush to ‘multiply’ (Make the colors darker) for the shadows and ‘screen’ to add highlights.

The whole coloring process can take anywhere from two to four hours.

Now, this is the annoying part. It’s usually at this point, when I sit back, put down my stylus and light up a cigarette, that I notice my mistakes.

You see, at the pencil stage and the inking stage, mistakes are easy as pie to fix. Pencils can be obliterated and re-drawn with a simple eraser, and inking can be fixed by simply clicking on the line you’re not happy with, pushing delete and redrawing the line.

However, once the colors are in, the only way to correct a line is to go right back to the inking stage and starting over

If you feel like it, you can see the drawing I spent from midnight to 5am drawing at

As you can see, as soon as I got done I thought:

Waist too long, hips out of proportion, belt looks like it’s solid, I didn’t shade the buckle etc, etc….and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.



rayray said...

Just keep working at her, she'll turn out.
I know I couldn't do any better!

Paulius said...

Nah, that's the problem, Rayray. In order to 'fix' that drawing, it would mean going right back to step one. Fixing the lines means fixing the sketch, which means ALL the coloring and everything would have to be re-done.

It's like building a house, and then deciding you're not too happy with the floorplan. Only way to fix it is to tear the thing down and start over...and when about 6 hours has gone into's the last thing you wanna do.

Basically, I might as well call it a learning experience and just start a whole new drawing.

I've actually discovered a big part of my problem. The picture looks fine when looked at at a 45 degree other words, the angle I see the paper at when I'm actually drawing it.

Yup, I finally discovered when professional artists have those tilted art boards.

mistyforeverlost said...

The length doesn't look bad. But the breasts sure look weird for some reason.

Paulius said...


I know, the reason they look odd is because I botched the light source when I was shading. So for some reason, the right one is lit from the left of the pic, the other is lit more from the top.

What can I say, that's like the third pic I ever attempted to shade...I know it sucks, but I'm strangely proud of it.

mistyforeverlost said...

Ok, so I know nothing about light source..but it's good to know the breast are normal.

If I were you, I would be proud. Any work is better then no work.

MC Etcher said...

Visual art has to be so much more difficult than writing.

With a visual piece, every tiny error is more obvious, while with writing, it's possible someone might skim over a mistake.


Anonymous said...

Misty : The light source is simply where the light would be coming from. So if the light was in the top left, shadows would be on the bottom right. I shaded the left brest wrong, that's why it looks odd.

Etcher : Not really. Some writing is so good, you forget you're reading and just fall into the story...that's incredibly hard to do and only a few people in the world can do it. There are also types of art that are incredibly forgiving. Cartooning for example is all about 'breaking the rules'...some of the best webcomics look like they were drawn by a 5 year old, but that doesn't make the unsuccessful art.